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Thread: Need advice in beating breast HA

  1. #1
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    Jul 2016
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    Need advice in beating breast HA

    I'm looking for help and advice in conquering my breast HA. I've had so many health worries over the years, from the top of my head down to my big toe (literally). But breast anxiety always eats me up. Once it takes hold of me it puts a fear through me that scares me to death. Sometimes a trip to the doctor will be enough and other times it's a referral to the breast clinic. Which is why I've had a few mammograms over the past few years. But the problem each time is that after a few months, the nagging thoughts start to creep in again. And before I know it I'm back at the doctors in a state, panicking over another lump (usually lump but has been other things too).
    And this constant cycle has lead me to where I am now. I'm terrified to check my breasts. I can't do it. Every time I do it I find something. About 6 months ago a new doctor at the practice I go to told me she would check them for me because of the level of anxiety it was causing me. I know some people don't agree with this, but checking them and the thought of checking them was crippling me every month. It was causing me so much stress and anxiety I was starting to crack up with it. But that doctor left a few weeks ago so I'm back to square one again.


    She had referred me to the breast clinic just before christmas for a lump I found. At that appointment a junior doctor gave me a breast exam and said he couldn't feel anything worrisome. He called in a senior doctor, she examined where I felt the lump and reassured me it was ok. She told me I have quite a few cysts in my breasts and they are very lumpy. She also said that because I am that way now that I will always be that way. In other words, I will always have lumpy breasts. And the cysts will come and go so the lumps will be in different places. Not what a person with severe breast HA wants to hear!!!
    They told me they would give me a mammogram but not on that day. It would be in the new year but she couldn't say when due to covid. It could be January or a couple of months after that. Still waiting for that appointment.


    Then last night I rubbed against my breast and thought I felt something. I felt around a bit and started comparing it to the other breast. And it was in the other breast that I found a lump. It's on the outside of my breast, high up, close to my armpit. I'm trying so hard not to sink into the usual place I go. Every lump, bump or lumpy thing I find has to be cancer. My brain won't go anywhere else.
    I desperately want to get over this breast anxiety and be able to live normally with my breasts, but I don't know how. I don't know what to do. I'm trying to tell myself that I was at the breast clinic a month ago, and even though it was the other breast I was worried about then, surely he would have noticed if something was off where I can feel the lump now? A sinister lump can't grow that quick, can it? And I also had a mammogram 8 months ago.


    I don't want to live like this anymore. How do I start to deal with breast HA. I know therapy will help but due to the current situation it's not possible at the moment. I'll do it as soon as it becomes available.
    People say to check your breasts regularly and get to know what's normal for you. That's the problem with me. I don't know what normal is because they are changing so much. Lumps appearing, staying there for months and then going away. Some are small, some quite big. Most are solid, some more solid than others. And checking breasts like that when I'm in a state of panic about them, it's too difficult. I feel so defeated by this and it's scaring me how I'm ever going to get over this. I don't want to ring the doctor about this latest lump so where do I even begin to start making progress?


    Sorry for the long post but I feel I have to get it off my chest. And I really want this to be the start of by breast HA recovery.
    Would really appreciate any advice. Thanks xx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    768

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    I know this was a long post and I don't blame people if they didn't bother reading it when they saw the length of it.
    I still don't know how to deal with my breast HA but would love a few opinions on a lump I can feel in my breast. Am I just giving in to my HA if I ring the doctor about it, considering I was at the breast clinic just before christmas, where they gave me a breast exam but not a mammogram. Will have to wait for a few months probably to have this. And this issue I had before christmas was in the other breast, even though they examined both breasts.

    I just want to know what's the right thing to do here. I can't see sense anymore when it comes to my health. So I don't want to be ignoring something when I shouldn't, or ringing a doctor when I shouldn't

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    6,092

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    HIyer, only just seen this......will have a think......and come back and response later

  4. #4
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    12,009

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    Have you got an appointment with the recommended psychologist yet?

    My advice would be to look back over your post history re BC and read some of the excellent advice you have already been given. It would be a better way to use this forum than making another thread.

    Factually you were at the BC clinic just before Xmas. Even if you'd had a mammogram then you would be questioning the validity of the result.

    You are finding "lumps" because your favourite GP has left and am I right in thinking that she was doing monthly breast exams? If this is right then now it's down to you and you have lost that safety net?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    6,092

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    I think, to be honest, firstly, you should do exactly what Pulisa says - go back over your previous threads about BC, as the advice remains the same.

    OK, so you were at the breast clinic just before Christmas, where (I've read your previous thread too, cyst/s and lumpy breast tissue?) two specialist doctors 'thought it was nothing' but did say that they'd book in a mammogram/ultrasound some time in the new year. They didn't know when it would be, due to COVID, but you are in the system for those checks. By going to your GP now, it won't make any difference - you have already been seen by a specialist and are awaiting the extra checks. What would the GP visit gain ? possibly another specialist appointment made, but you've only just seen them a few short weeks ago and as you rightly say if you think something has changed that quickly, then it certainly isn't anything sinister. My advice would be that now just have to wait the time required to be fitted in for the mammo/ultrasound - and by the fact that they most definitely have you on a non-urgent appointment request, I would say that it shows they aren't expecting anything untoward.

    Your query about 'how do I know what is normal when things are changing' are something you could put to the clinic specialists, it is a valid point. Maybe they need to explain more clearly what the differences would be like, and how they would present IF there was something to really show concern about. There is a definite difference in the feel of cysts to the feel of cancerous lumps, this is demonstrated by the fact that doctors have felt cysts and diagnosed you correctly with them before. I know you can't expect to become an expert in manual examinations, as they are, but certainly you can learn to feel those cysts you currently have and mentally noted down the feeling of them, and the tissues around them. Maybe also you need to actually give things more time, as if changes are coming and going regularly, cysts-wise, then if you waited a few more weeks it would probably be gone and a new one somewhere else. Dashing off for the many clinic appointments you've had, and various mammograms, would probably be invalid if you had just given things a bit more time.

    But the problem each time is that after a few months, the nagging thoughts start to creep in again.
    You are at least aware of what you doing here, and awareness is a good step towards taking further action. You know that any check or test provides only short-term relief from the fear, and you can't keep going as you are running for testing and checking every single time you feel concern. After this Mammo/ultrasound, when all is well again, you need to work on your own reassurance based on knowledge of the feeling of what you have felt this time, and how similar other 'lumps' are.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    768

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    Have you got an appointment with the recommended psychologist yet?

    My advice would be to look back over your post history re BC and read some of the excellent advice you have already been given. It would be a better way to use this forum than making another thread.

    Factually you were at the BC clinic just before Xmas. Even if you'd had a mammogram then you would be questioning the validity of the result.

    You are finding "lumps" because your favourite GP has left and am I right in thinking that she was doing monthly breast exams? If this is right then now it's down to you and you have lost that safety net?
    I haven't got an appointment yet for the psychologist. He said to ring him back at the end of this month so I will do next week. But nothing has changed here as far as lockdown is concerned. All we know is that it's definitely going to go on well past January so I doubt I'll be able to see him for a while :(


    I know I was at the clinic before Christmas but what's worrying me is that it wasn't this new lump, or even this breast, that I was concerned with then. So he very quickly felt the area I'm worried about now. If I had the mammogram before xmas then I'm sure I would be ok now. I would trust the mammogram and know that whatever I'm feeling now is nothing to worry about.


    Yes my GP left, but she was only my GP for about the last 6 months. So she did a few breast checks for me. Before that I was doing them myself and for the past 4/5 years was getting into a state with them. I've had many trips to the doctor over a lump I found and a few referrals and mammograms too. So it's not just since my GP left that this is going on, I've struggled checking my breasts for a couple of years now. Really don't know how I'm going to conquer this fear.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    768

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    Quote Originally Posted by Carys View Post
    I think, to be honest, firstly, you should do exactly what Pulisa says - go back over your previous threads about BC, as the advice remains the same.

    OK, so you were at the breast clinic just before Christmas, where (I've read your previous thread too, cyst/s and lumpy breast tissue?) two specialist doctors 'thought it was nothing' but did say that they'd book in a mammogram/ultrasound some time in the new year. They didn't know when it would be, due to COVID, but you are in the system for those checks. By going to your GP now, it won't make any difference - you have already been seen by a specialist and are awaiting the extra checks. What would the GP visit gain ? possibly another specialist appointment made, but you've only just seen them a few short weeks ago and as you rightly say if you think something has changed that quickly, then it certainly isn't anything sinister. My advice would be that now just have to wait the time required to be fitted in for the mammo/ultrasound - and by the fact that they most definitely have you on a non-urgent appointment request, I would say that it shows they aren't expecting anything untoward.

    Your query about 'how do I know what is normal when things are changing' are something you could put to the clinic specialists, it is a valid point. Maybe they need to explain more clearly what the differences would be like, and how they would present IF there was something to really show concern about. There is a definite difference in the feel of cysts to the feel of cancerous lumps, this is demonstrated by the fact that doctors have felt cysts and diagnosed you correctly with them before. I know you can't expect to become an expert in manual examinations, as they are, but certainly you can learn to feel those cysts you currently have and mentally noted down the feeling of them, and the tissues around them. Maybe also you need to actually give things more time, as if changes are coming and going regularly, cysts-wise, then if you waited a few more weeks it would probably be gone and a new one somewhere else. Dashing off for the many clinic appointments you've had, and various mammograms, would probably be invalid if you had just given things a bit more time.



    You are at least aware of what you doing here, and awareness is a good step towards taking further action. You know that any check or test provides only short-term relief from the fear, and you can't keep going as you are running for testing and checking every single time you feel concern. After this Mammo/ultrasound, when all is well again, you need to work on your own reassurance based on knowledge of the feeling of what you have felt this time, and how similar other 'lumps' are.
    I agree with what you're saying. It doesn't mean that I'm not scared but I think I know what I have to do.
    For now, this is what I will try to do:
    - not contact my GP about it
    - wait until I get my mammogram appointment (which I think will not be for a few months anyway)
    - even though it was the other breast I was concerned with, he did quickly feel the area where I can feel the lump now. He's trained to feel breasts, I'm not. I need to keep telling myself that IF it is something sinister then it would have been there a few weeks ago and he would have felt it. As far as I know, nothing sinister can grow that quick?


    I will bring it up when I do go for the mammogram that I'm not sure how to check my breasts or what to look out for. Everything is a lump to me. But I don't know if I'll be seeing a doctor on that day. My gut feeling is I won't. I'll just be called in for the mammogram/ultrasound and then sent on my way. If I don't get to speak to someone that day about it, I might have no choice but to say it to my GP. Ask her what I need to do to check my breasts, what I should look out for, what lumps are ok and what ones are to be investigated. I'll go in to her with a pen and paper and take notes if I have to. Does that sound a bit extreme?


    Breast HA is the worst for me, which is probably because we are supposed to check our breasts regularly. I don't check any other part of my body. So I really need to get this sorted. Probably a combination of therapy (which I will eventually be doing as soon as COVID eases off again) and training on breast checking. I know it will take a while but I've been living in breast fear for 4 or 5 years now and it's torture. Never goes away. Always afraid I didn't check properly and missed something which makes me check again. It's as if I'm not content any more until I find something.
    If I can hold off contacting the GP about his one, it will be something anyway. Hopefully I can hold out!

  8. #8
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    Nov 2009
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    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    That all sounds like a really good plan ! Yes, take notes, from the G.P. if needed (and you don't see a consultant)

    As far as I know, nothing sinister can grow that quick?
    Its a certainty. I had a grade 3 cancer type, the highest and fastest growing - in 5 weeks (from diagnosis to surgery) it added 1.5 mm to the size it was at diagnosis.
    Last edited by Carys; 23-01-21 at 16:58.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    89

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    Hi Brokengirl, I read your post and no it wasnít to long to read but I wanted to make sure I was conveying the correct message to you.
    I truly do sympathise with you as i am in the same situation as yourself, I have general health anxiety however breast cancer anxiety is at the top of the list, because itís something I have to check every month.
    Whilst doing my CBT sessions they do recommend you do all checking according to government guidelines and this means me checking my breast for any changes.
    I am very much like you every-time I check I notice something different so then Iím not sure wether itís something new or not and then get fixated on it.
    My latest episode started September with one genuine concern which I contacted my gp who said it was just my rib! But since then everytime I checked I found things that I never noticed before or sometimes I will check and if I canít find anything I will keep on checking until I convince myself that these doesnít feel right.
    The only thing that helped me is not panicking and running to the gp, and it eventually calmed down hands on heart I canít even remember now which parts I was previously paranoid about. I also know that my gp wonít even see me now in October when I rang she sent me some poropanol to help with the breast anxiety rather than listening to me asking her to check me, she rang me after a week to ask how I was doing and I had calmed down.
    I truly Believe the more anxious we are checking we are going to think the worst.
    Obviously my other issue is that what if it is a lump and Iím ignoring it, that eats me up as well but learn to fight it. Itís not easy itís really not there will be some times when I will be so scared that I have a lump and Iím not doing anything about it but I let it ride I donít react to the thought.
    Iím sorry I canít be of much help but not contacting the gp and not immediately reacting to the thought is the only thing thatís worked for me so far.
    But just wanted you to know, youíre not on your own fighting this demon and with the right type of help it will get better, I hope this helps.

  10. #10

    Re: Need advice in beating breast HA

    I am so sorry you are struggling with this. I struggle with this as well. I have general anxiety and terrible health anxiety, but my breast anxiety is a little bit different. I could not get my first mammogram until I was 42, because I was still breastfeeding my youngest. My mom had breast cancer twice, but post menopause, which means that it is not as big of a risk factor for me, but it is a consideration. Also, when I was in my early 20's, I had benign fibroadenoma removed from my breast that was found during an annual exam. It was huge, just random, but benign things like that still also add to increased breast cancer risk.

    So, my first mammogram, I got called back and and ended up having to have a biopsy. It was benign. It was INCREDIBLY TRAUMATIZING- not due to the pain of the biopsy or anything, but I had to wait a week for the biopsy results over Christmas. I spent the week frozen in fear, ruined Christmas for my family and certainly for myself. Having the biopsy, even though benign, again put me at higher risk for breast cancer and changed the recommendation for screening to include an annual MRI. The next year, had the annual mammogram, got called back for a shadow, had to have an ultrasound. Again, I sobbed, fell apart, was totally anxious. Then, had the first MRI. Found something that looked like a benign thing, followed that for six months, then finally decided to just have a biopsy to be done with it, the biopsy went badly as they didn't numb it correctly, but it appeared benign. Added to ALLLLLL of that, for some reason I have a plugged montgomery gland on one of my nipples, which is a basically a big whitehead thing that is never going to go away. It is fine, but it makes me anxious. And I have a ton of breast pain, probably due to perimenopause and caffeine, and it makes me anxious.

    My very kind doctor who had watched me go through all of this suggested that I see a breast specialist an hour away at a university hospital to talk about my situation. This was helpful. She suggested that I come to the university for mammograms because they will give me immediate results, no waiting. Not even a day. She also told me to stop the annual MRI's until I turn at least 50, as she feels it is just going to result in finding more "benign crap to biopsy". I told her and my doctor both that I am not going to examine my own breasts. I can't do it rationally, so I just have my OBGYN do it during my exams. Finally, I had a GREAT breast year last year. My mammogram was unremarkable and I had the immediate results. And my annual exam in September, my provider reported my breasts felt and looked fine.

    All of that to say- I have no solution for you! Ha! But I am with you. I still struggle with it a ton. Sometime I visually check my breasts over and over and over again, looking for inflammatory breast cancer signs. I have had what was basically a pimple on my breast biopsied by a dermatologist, which was unnecessary. Usually when I get in the shower, I try not to look at my breasts at all, because it can start a whole thing. I can't take baths or look at my body too closely. I still periodically send photos of red spots to my doctor for reassurance. I have to constantly remind myself not be to scared of the breast pain, which is severe and usually only in one breast. I track it as a symptoms and match it with my cycles. I have a therapist. I am working on decreasing checking and Googling. And I actually have other medical problems that are more acute right now that have helped me focus less on breasts. To some degree, I also feel like I have to accept that I may get breast cancer. I feel like I am just waiting for it, actually. And if I have it, I will have to face it and treat it. It probably won't be as bad as all of the anxiety I have about it.

    I have no idea if any of this is helpful to you, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not at all alone.

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